Month: June 2020

Jens Dittmar: Sterben kann jeder [Anyone Can Die]

The latest addition to my website is Jens Dittmar‘s Sterben kann jeder [Anyone Can Die]. This is the first novel from Liechtenstein on my site and, inevitably, it has not been translated into any other language. We follow the story of Jodok, a Liechtenstein national, and his wife, Ilse, a German national, who lives with her husband in Liechtenstein after the war. Jodok is killed in a fire in 1972. Ilse lives for many years later and, for much of the story, is in an old people’s home, reminiscing about her time with Jodok, to her son, Lorenz. While we follow their story and Dittmar throws in a few tangents, the main plot, which takes up only a small part of the book is why did Jodok die? Was it murder, suicide and or accident? All is – sort of – revealed at the end.

Josef Pánek: Láska v době globálních klimatických změn [Love in the Time of Global Climate Change]

The latest addition to my website is Josef Pánek‘s Láska v době globálních klimatických změn [Love in the Time of Global Climate Change]. This is a witty (with Czech-style wit) novel about racism and racial differences. Tomáš is a divorced molecular biologist, attending a conference in Bangalore. He does not like the place – the heat, the smell, the noise, the food, the lack of alcohol. He has not had sex for some time (exactly how much depends on his mood) and cannot countenance having sex with an Indian woman. He then meets an Indian woman, first in the street and later at the conference and he starts to wonder whether he was mistaken. Throughout the book he mocks those he meets, the places he visits, his family, the Czech institutions and above all, himself and his attitudes. It is very funny but, at the same time, seriously discusses the issue of racism and racial differences.

Peadar O’Donnell: The Big Windows

The latest addition to my website is Peadar O’Donnell‘s The Big Windows. Brigid lives on an island and has married Tom, who lives on the mainland, in a glen, surrounded by mountains. She moves to the mainland to join her husband but things do not go well. Some of the women jostle and bully her, resentful of the fact that she has stolen one of their men, a much coveted man. There is a shortage of men, as many have gone to Boston or to Scotland to earn money to go to the United States. Her widowed mother-in-law tries to teach her the ways of the glen. Tom realises that she is missing the large vistas living on an island offers and suggests installing big windows for her. Initially, there is opposition but when the windows arrive, everyone helps out. However, the healing is only superficial and things do not go well. This may be O’Donnell’s best novel.

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